(Originally published on Sunday, May 2, 2010)
Tips and tricks on how to perform and manage your job search online
While summer traditionally means vacations, it turns out that many Filipinos take advantage of the season to look for jobs. A quick look at Google Insights for Search (www.google.com.ph/insights/search), a tool that enables people to know more about what Filipinos search for on Google.com.ph, reveals that searches for jobs in the Philippines typically spike between March and May, likely due to the large numbers of fresh college graduates trying to find their first job.
Filipinos are also the top searchers for job hunting worldwide, which may partially explain the country’s relatively low unemployment rate of 7.5%.
The latest Job Availability Index, using data from an online job portal, shows a 4.7% increase in job vacancies posted online between January this year and the same period last year. With so much competition for jobs, it becomes more important than ever to be a tech savvy job-hunter. There are many web tools out there that can help you find—and land—your dream job. Here are a few tips:
1. Search smarter
Use search engines wisely and make sure to be as specific as possible when doing job-related searches. Search engines allow you to look for geography-specific information, such as for pages from only the Philippines, and even to those that are written in Filipino only. It helps to define the function and area you wish to target, so for instance, “IT jobs Cebu City” will be more useful than just the generic term “jobs.” Take advantage of suggested terms that search engines provide which may help narrow down your search results. Operators are also a great way to narrow your search. For instance, use double quotation marks if you are only searching for a specific word or phrase (“freelance jobs”), or the minus sign “-” if you wish to exclude a specific word associated with your search (ex. freelance jobs -manila, if you’re not interested in job listings from Manila).
2. Remember the good ones
Once you’ve found web pages, blog posts, and forum discussions that contain the job hunting information you need, save them as bookmarks in your Internet browser and arrange them in folders for easy access. Keep your information secure and make sure to sign out of your web accounts and clear your cache especially when in Internet cafes.
3. Keep yourself posted
Get regular emails on job listings by signing up for job-related alerts through an alerts tool that most news aggregators and search engines offer. Select keywords you’re interested in (e.g. “sales manager Manila”) and have these alerts delivered directly to your inbox or your RSS feed reader, so you can beat out other job hunters when it comes to applying for these jobs immediately.
4. Check your email regularly
Email is now the primary method of communication between recruiters and candidates, and yet many of us still forget to check our emails regularly. Make it a habit and allocate a specific time to check if there are any responses to your applications. Acknowledge receiving these emails with a short confirmation, and after the interview, send a quick email thank you note to your interviewers as a matter of etiquette.
Also, while you want your personality to be remembered by companies, you don’t want to be notorious because of an unprofessional-sounding email like email@example.com. When in doubt, just use your given name and surname as your email address.
5. Get some help
Managing job applications can be daunting, and it may help to use an email program that is very good at managing the flow of information. Gmail, for instance, has Gmail Labs, which are features you could use to customize your job hunting experience online. Useful features include the Forgotten Attachment Detector, to ensure your resume is always attached, Quick Links to your bookmarked pages, Superstars to identify job-related e-mails, and even Undo Send in case you accidentally forward a NSFW (Not Safe For Work) email to a recruiter. To access Gmail Labs, sign in to your Gmail account and click the Labs icon beside the Settings tab on the top-right corner.
6. Update your resume and write your cover letters
Your CV is your first step to being noticed, and there’s nothing more off-putting to a recruiter than getting an outdated one, or a cover letter that’s addressed to the HR head of a competing company. Getting a second pair of eyes to proofread your CV and cover letters is essential. Make sharing easier by uploading them onto a web-based document editor like Google Docs (www.google.com/docs), an online word processor that enables real-time collaboration between several people on the same document. With every change and comment you make automatically saved, you never have to worry about managing multiple versions of the same document again. And while you’re at it, you might want to try your hand at video resumes, another way for you to distinguish yourself from the job pool. Watch some and then upload your own to YouTube (www.youtube.com).
7. Put your name out there
Being tech-savvy is a plus in today’s job-hunting environment. Why not go the extra mile and create a website or a blog with your updated resume, portfolio, and recommendations? Social networking profiles are also a must nowadays if you want to get in touch with folks in your target industry. Recruiters are known to use certain social networking sites to find suitable candidates for jobs they need to fill. Get recommendations from current and previous associates and post them online, and provide samples of your work, if possible. Remember to publicly post only appropriate material that you would want your future employer to see.
8. Make an appointment
Got the coveted interview? Make sure you’re on time by marking it on an online calendar, which has numerous advantages over the old paper organizer. You can create SMS alerts for appointments, add new entries from any computer or mobile phone and share your calendar with peers so that they don’t book you on a time slot reserved for your interview. On your calendar entry, make sure to list down the things you need to bring (resume, portfolio), the clothes you’ll be wearing (corporate or business casual), and information about the location, the interviewer, and the company.
9. Do your research
Many candidates simultaneously apply to dozens of jobs and end up spouting generic bits of information when asked during an interview why they’d like to work for the company. That’s the surest way to failure. Before your interview, make sure you read up on the the latest news about the company lest you get caught by surprise. Find out their core and extended services so that you can sound knowledgeable and passionate about the company.
10. Know where you’re going
Now that you know your interview schedule, make sure you know how to get to the location of your interview. Nowadays, digital maps can save you from getting lost. Google Maps (www.google.com/maps), for instance, has a very comprehensive map of major cities in the Philippines. It also lets you look up names of places and street addresses so that you can plot your route, make and print your own maps, and get exact driving directions to your interview–all from any computer or smartphone.
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